The National Historical Museum, is located in one of the more impressive buildings in Athens. It is in the old Parliament House, which has an imposing neo-classical design. The museum itself exhibits an important collection relating mainly to the period of the revolution. To find out more about the National Historical Museum of Greece, read on.
The Old Parliament House
Situated on Stadiou Street, the building was home to the Hellenic Parliament from 1875 through until 1932. (The Hellenic Parliament then moved to its current location of the Old Palace, now known as the Parliament Building). From 1932 until 1961, the Old Parliament building in Athens became home to the Ministry Of Justice. From 1961 onward, it became the National Historical Museum.
The Old Parliament Building is certainly worth seeing from the outside, even if you do not have the time to visit the museum. The building is of a neoclassical design, and an impressive bronze statue stands at the front. This is of General Theodoros Kolokotronis, one of the most prominent characters of the Greek War of Independence. If you get a chance, try to read up about him, as it's a fascinating story. Note – At the time of writing, this statue was covered up for renovations.
The National Historical Museum of Greece
Although the Museum is called the National Historical Museum, it exhibits the collection of the Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece. This collection consists of a number of interesting items and artefacts. These cover the period between 1453 up to the Second World War.
There is a particular emphasis on the Greek Revolution. This was basically the foundation for the country we know today as Greece. Anyone interested in the creation of modern Greece, should definitely visit this museum!
There are hundreds of items on display, ranging from weapons through to a collection of traditional Greek costumes. The wooden mastheads from ships from the revolution era were particularly striking. Perhaps even a little cartoon like!
I was a little disappointed that the second world war area was very tiny (just one small corridor). For anyone interested in how the Second World War impacted Greece, I would suggest visiting The War Museum in Athens.
I was also half expecting there to be some mention of the civil war period after the Second World War. This was not present though. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I have come to realise that there is an unofficial policy in Greece. This policy is to ignore this period of the country's history, along with the dictatorship years. Obviously neither period were Greece's ‘finest hour'. To have no official museum dedicated to either period is puzzling though.
I found the National Historical Museum of Greece to be extremely interesting. It really helped to improve my knowledge of the Greek War of Independence. It also helped to explain the fundamentals behind Greek national identity. (Language and religion). History buffs will love this one, as will anyone interested in finding out more about how Greece achieved independence.
Information for Visiting The National Historical Museum in Athens
I have one main pro-tip for visiting the National Historical Museum of Greece. Visit on a Sunday. It's free! Allow about one and a half hours to enjoy the exhibits at an unhurried pace. The closest metro station is at Syntagma Square.
I visited the National Historical Museum, as part of my ongoing project to visit every museum in Athens. For a full list (over 70 and growing!) of museums in Athens, click here >> List of all the museums in Athens.